Tag Archives: net neutrality

10 Reasons Why the Government is a Good Thing

Good governmentAs English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote in 1651, life without government is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Don’t let the Republicans control the narrative that government “is bad” or “is the problem.” The argument is bogus.

My father used to say that “civilization is the last bubble in a long fermentation.” He was a City Manager and believed that a city was the loftiest expression of society. He grew up when FDR was President and believed that public service was the highest calling of a citizen.

How far the image of the government has fallen since my father died. Years of propaganda from right-wing libertarians have made “government” a bad word. Disinformation from the billionaire Koch Brothers has brought attacks on “government schools” and “big government.”

The next time you meet someone who thinks the government is a bad thing, talk to them about this list of 10 reasons that government is a good thing. The government carries out the rules of our society and takes action for the public in efforts that people cannot do as well individually. Government activities that everybody likes are law enforcement, roads, the courts and trash pickup.

But there’s so much more that we get from the government:

Environmental safety that guarantees us clear air and water. Without this, we’d have choking air pollution like in Shanghai and Delhi, India, and poisonous rivers like the Ganges in India and the Yellow River in China. When government is working properly it promotes a clean power plan, works to combat climate change, establishes flood building standards, prohibits coal dumping in streams, and participates in world climate agreements. 2017 was the hottest year on record in Tucson, and only government can prevent it from getting worse. Continue reading

FCC approves net neutrality, Providers, GOP vow to block it

First, the good news today. FCC approves strict rules on Web providers:

FCCThe Federal Communications Commission approved strict new rules for Internet providers Thursday in a historic vote that represents the government’s most aggressive attempt to make sure the Web remains a level playing field.

The rules would dramatically expand the agency’s oversight of the country’s high-speed broadband providers, regulating them like a public utility. They were adopted by a 3-to-2 margin with the commission’s Republican members voting against them.

Under the rules, it will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing “fast lanes” that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers, such as T-Mobile and Sprint, in a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet.

“This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression and an absence of gatekeepers telling them what they can do, where they can go and what they can think.”

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It is also a significant victory for consumer advocates, grass-roots organizers, Internet companies and Democrats, all of whom spent months pressing for what President Obama called “the strongest possible rules” on net neutrality.

President Obama sent a thank-you note to the millions of people who urged the FCC to write tough rules. Obama’s thank you note to net neutrality supporters .

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Obama Goes Bold on Net Neutrality, Calls for Public Utility (video)

Net neutrality protesters confront FCC chair Tom Wheeler at his house.

Net neutrality protesters confront FCC chair Tom Wheeler at his house.

President Thomas Jefferson valued a free press so much that he believed newspapers should be delivered free to all citizens, so they could be informed voters. How far we have fallen from our originals ideal of a “free press”. Corporate newspapers have dwindled in size and stature, thanks to the advertising-driven business model. Some newspapers are little more than collections of press releases, wire service stories, and display ads– with little or no original local content. They have devolved into corporate rags– far from the ideal of a “free” press.

As corporate news has degenerated, the Internet, with its egalitarian, free-range news and information, has thrived. (Yes, of course, the Internet has contributed to the demise of print media, but corporate decisions fueled the downfall.) For example, you can read stories on this blog that no corporate media outlet would ever print.

With an Internet connection, you get it all– the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the brilliant, the stupid, the lies, and the truth. It is your job to sort through it and read what you want.

Telecom companies really want to stop all of that free information and free thought. They want to be able to charge big users– like Google, Amazon, Facebook– more money for a “fast lane”. They would push more corporate (paid) content our way and push other content– like blogs and non-corporate websites– to a “slow lane” or block them completely. (Good background here.) In other words, if the telecom companies win the net neutrality battle, good luck finding voices that don’t promote the corporate news and ideas.

On Monday, President Barack Obama announced his support for making the Internet a public utility. This is huge.

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John Oliver Calls on Angry Internet Trolls to Save Net Neutrality (video)

computer keyboardIt’s a sad state of affairs when a country that touts freedom of the press depends upon cable TV comedy shows to hear the real news.

Recently, comedian John Oliver– formerly with The Daily Show and now with his own satirical “news” show– aired a 13-minute explanation of net neutrality, why we should all care, and, most importantly, what we can do about it (besides blog, whine, protest, etc.)

According to Oliver, the concept of net neutrality is too boring and complicated for mainstream news outlets to worry their pretty little heads about it, so many Americans are uninformed. In its current state, the Internet is one, big, messy democracy of loosely organized information– all traveling at the same speed to and from your computer.  When you do a Google search, “news” (AKA spin) from multi-billion-dollar corporate giants can appear next to lowly blog posts dissing the same corporate giants. This is net neutrality. Thanks to social media and free blogging platforms, anyone with basic computer skills and time on their hands can be heard.

Telecom giants like Comcast and Verizon want to de-democratize the Internet by instituting two levels of access– the high-speed lane for corporate people with deep pockets and the slow lane for the rest of us. Verizon sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the net neutrality rules and won in January 2014.

Interestingly enough, multinational corporations like Google and Facebook (who would have to pay big bucks for that fast lane) are teaming up with everyday folks (who really want the Internet to be open to everyone equally and regulated like a utility) to fight for net neutrality. (Oliver says it’s like Lex Luthor teaming up with Superman.)

This is where you and the Internet trolls come in. FCC has opened up a comment period. (Commenting instructions and Oliver’s video, after the jump.)

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Federal Court Ruling: Is this Beginning of the End for Net Neutrality?

We-the-persons750-sig-sm72-b-wby Pamela Powers Hannley

If you don’t like the way Facebook shovels advertising and promoted posts into your “news feed”, instead of the latest photos of your friends’ vacations, you’re really not going to like the new and improved Internet.

Yesterday, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn’t have the power to regulate net neutrality. What does this mean for you? Internet providers like Verizon can now cut deals with corporate giants to accelerate their content, while leaving non-commercial Internet content–like those pesky independent blogs– in the dustbin of a Google search.

From Think Progress

Net neutrality rules were issued by the FCC to prevent broadband providers from favoring some content over other content, potentially even their own. As the two-judge majority explains, “a broadband provider like Comcast might limit its end-user subscribers’ ability to access the New York Times website if it wanted to spike traffic to its own news website, or it might degrade the quality of the connection to a search website like Bing if a competitor like Google paid for prioritized access.”

Even as they struck down these rules Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit judges concede that this concern is real, writing, “broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment.” The problem, however, derives from an earlier FCC decision that even advocates of net neutrality like Free Press president Craig Aaron say was a failure of FCC leadership to “ground its Open Internet rules on solid legal footing.” [Emphasis added.]

This is scary shit. A free and open Internet has been an incubator for person-to-person communication and community organizing through social media and blogging. Up until yesterday, anyone with access to the Internet and time on their hands could create a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page and start publishing content out to the world. Anyone with basic writing skills and good search engine optimization (SEO) could be heard.

As corporate filters have been applied to news distribution and traditional television news has shifted to entertainment, citizens have turned to blogs for real news and non-commercial commentary.

The FCC can appeal this ruling, and the Court left the door open for future regulations, but in the meantime, you expect to be fed more advertising and more corporate content. From the New York Times

Federal regulators had tried to prevent those deals, saying they would give large, rich companies an unfair edge in reaching consumers. But since the Internet is not considered a utility under federal law, the court said, it is not subject to regulations banning the arrangements.

Some deals could come soon. In challenging the 2010 regulations at issue in the case, Verizon told the court that if not for the rules by the Federal Communications Commission, “we would be exploring those commercial arrangements.”

Internet users will probably not see an immediate difference with their service. Consumer advocates, though, warned that higher costs to content providers could be passed on to the public, and called the ruling a serious blow against the concept of a free and open Internet. “It leaves consumers at the mercy of a handful of cable and phone providers that can give preferential treatment to the content they profit from,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union.

Verizon and other corporate giants have spent millions lobbying against and fighting court battles to stop net neutrality. If we want to keep it, we have to continue to fight for it.